Port: Stop making excuses for the failures of the Democratic-NPL

North Dakotans would be happy to vote for Democrats if those Democrats began promoting the right sort of policies.

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Rob Port
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MINOT, N.D. — Tuesday brought news of yet another ballot drubbing for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL.

Democrats lost every single statewide race in a landslide Nov. 3 and saw their legislative minorities shrink down to levels not even NDGOP campaign operatives thought were possible .

Democrats have seven seats in the Senate.

That's barely enough to field a basketball team, let alone cover the various committee assignments that make up the bulk of a lawmaker's work.

This renewed electoral cataclysm also inspired yet another round of excuse-making for the Democratic-NPL. My colleague Adam Willis went to a bunch of political science academics so that they could dust off the same tired old shibboleths they always say when asked why Democrats can't seem to win in North Dakota.


It's the toxicity of the national Democratic brand in rural areas, they tell us.

It's the rise of the conservative-leaning oil industry in the state, they say.

UND political science professor Mark Jendrysik even tried to suggest that North Dakota is too old to vote Democrat, making me wonder if this guy is even paying attention. Willis wrote : "An aging population, combined with an influx of conservative voters from the oil boom, has contributed to a more homogeneous electorate in North Dakota in the last 10 years, Jendrysik argued."

Aging population? The oil boom made North Dakota younger.

Our state has the fifth lowest median age in the country, including the District of Columbia .

Over the last decade, North Dakota has gotten younger and more conservative, despite what Jendrysik has to say on the matter.

We need to break out of this cycle of applying the same tired, old thinking to the Democratic-NPL plight.

I'm hardly a friend of that party, but those who want to see it successful need to stop making excuses.


The Democratic-NPL has some enormous blindspots when it comes to the wellbeing of North Dakotans.

Case in point: Down the stretch of campaign season, the issue Democrats flogged most loudly was a decision, made by Republican statewide leaders in the executive and legislative branches, to use some CARES Act money to keep oil workers on the job .

Democrats and their allies tried to paint this as some egregious sop to the oil industry. Those not beholden of the left's overweening disdain for that industry saw it as a practical way to keep hundreds of men and women in western North Dakota with a paycheck during a very scary moment in our state's history.

Is it any wonder that Democrats can't win over those voters and their friends and families?

The national Democratic brand is toxic in North Dakota, sure, but we cannot ignore how often the Democratic-NPL and its candidates are indifferent to the best interests of North Dakotans.

North Dakotans would be happy to vote for Democrats if those Democrats began promoting the right sort of policies.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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